Gracie Cox, a costume designer from South Carolina, has publicly come forward with a sexual assault allegation against actor and director Kevin Connolly.
She explained to the Daily Beast that she worked with Connolly on the movie The Gardener of Eden in 2005. It was his directorial debut and Cox was hired as an assistant designer. Cox said Connolly often flirted with her on set.
After filming was over, the cast and crew celebrated with a party at a lounge in downtown Manhattan. Cox claimed Connolly pulled her aside, led her to an empty room and assaulted her without using a condom. Connolly has insisted the act was consensual. His attorney, Marty Singer, countered in a prepared statement that the actor “categorically denies any claim that it was assault.” (The full statement is included in Fact #2).
Heavy is working to contact Cox for further information. In addition to The Gardener of Eden, Cox’s professional resume included major network and streaming shows such as Gossip Girl, Rescue Me, Orange Is the New Black and Girls.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Cox Complained to Friends While Working on the Movie That Connolly Flirted With Her on Set
Cox explained to the Daily Beast that Connolly showed interest in her while they were working on The Gardener of Eden. She said the attention surprised her because Connolly had a girlfriend at the time. Connolly dated heiress Nicky Hilton for two years before splitting in late 2006, People reported.
Cox told the website that she “didn’t take it too seriously” when Connolly flirted with her and that she tolerated it because he was her boss. “There was nothing that made me fearful though, it just made me a little uncomfortable.”
The Daily Beast cited two of Cox’s friends who recalled Cox complaining to them about Connelly’s behavior at work. Connolly, through his attorney, claimed the attraction was mutual and that Cox flirted back.
2. Cox Claimed Connolly Assaulted Her From Behind & Told Her to Clean Herself Up With a Pillow
The situation escalated in December 2005 at the film’s wrap party, Cox said. She explained that after about an hour at the party, Connolly asked her to step outside with him for a cigarette. Cox said she accepted because, although she didn’t smoke, she didn’t want to seem “rude.” Connolly’s legal team disputes this detail, alleging that the actor was not smoking during that period. Cox said she had had a few drinks and was “tipsy.”
Cox claims Connolly led her into a VIP area and was surprised when he kissed her. Cox said she “didn’t know how to respond” but that before she could do anything, said Connolly pulled down her pants and then assaulted her from behind. Cox told the Daily Beast, “There was not really a chance in my mind to object or resist. It just happened really fast. I froze and was in shock.”
Cox said Connolly was not wearing a condom. She said after he was done, Connolly threw a pillow at her and told her to clean herself off. Cox said Connolly advise her to wait a few minutes after he left the room in order to avoid being seen together.
Connolly disputes Cox’s account of what happened at the party in 2005. His attorney insisted in a statement that the physical act with Cox had been a “mutual consensual encounter.” A spokeswoman for Connolly shared the full statement with Heavy:
Kevin strongly supports victims of sexual assault and believes their claims should always be heard. As someone who has worked in this industry for four decades, he has treated people with nothing but respect and has maintained a stellar reputation. Therefore, he was completely shocked to learn of the allegations made by Gracie Cox from a wrap party in 2005. The incident with Ms. Cox was consensual, and he categorically denies any claim that it was assault. When they returned to the wrap party, Gracie’s boss, Amy Westcott, learned of what occurred and expressed her disappointment to both. Gracie shared with Kevin that she was embarrassed after getting in trouble with Amy, the head of the costume department. According to IMDB, it doesn’t appear that Gracie and Amy worked together on a project since then. Amy and Kevin continued to work together for two more years on Entourage, and a few years later Amy recommended her assistant to work with Kevin on another job. Kevin completely understands Amy’s displeasure with the consensual act that transpired between Kevin and Gracie 15 years ago, after production had wrapped and they were no longer working together on the movie. Kevin acknowledges the lack of professionalism on his part, but he adamantly denies that it was anything other than a mutual consensual encounter.
3. Cox Said She Told Costume Designer Amy Westcott Immediately & Westcott Confronted Connolly at the Party
Cox said she did not keep the incident with Connolly to herself. She explained that costume designer Amy Westcott approached her after noticing that she appeared upset. Cox said she told Westcott what had happened, a fact Westcott also confirmed to the Daily Beast.
Westcott immediately confronted Connolly and, according to two crew members who also attended the party, got into a heated argument with him. Cox added that Connolly and Westcott both raised their voices and that the argument took place in the middle of the party. Westcott and Cox discussed the incident later by email, with Westcott writing at the time, “I knew it wasn’t consensual, and went after him.”
Connolly’s attorney disputes the nature of the argument between Connolly and Westcott. Connolly believed Westcott was upset because it was “unprofessional” for Connolly, as the director, to get involved with a crew member.
4. Cox Did Not File a Police Report Because She Said She Was Afraid For Her Career
Cox did not report Connolly to law enforcement after the incident at the Manhattan lounge. She told the Daily Beast that she was worried about the impact it could have on her career if she spoke out against Connolly. “He thinks he’s untouchable, and that’s part of the reason why it’s been hard to come forward about it.” She said she did get an STD test at the time.
Her good friend Susanna Vapnek, who said Cox confided in her the day after the incident, told the website, “I told her to go visit a doctor, because he had not used a condom. But her greatest concern was losing her job and being listed as someone who was ‘not cool’ to work with.”
Vapnek shared the article to her Facebook page on July 15 and praised Cox for speaking up: “I am so proud of my dear friend Gracie Cox for coming forward with her story. Please share this article. I’m pretty sure there are more victims of Connelly out there. Hopefully this article can reach them and give them the courage to come forward.”
5. Cox, Who Now Works as a Social Worker, Said She Reached Out to Attorney Gloria Allred in 2017
Cox explained that she attempted to come forward in 2017 after allegations against director Harvey Weinstein went public and launched the “Me Too” movement. She said she spoke with a reporter from Buzzfeed but the story was never published. According to the Daily Beast, the unnamed reporter from Buzzfeed explained that at the time, the outlet decided to hold the story until other accusers spoke up about Connolly.
Cox also said she reached out to attorney Gloria Allred about representing her in 2017. But she claimed Allred’s firm did not take her as a client because, at the time, a criminal lawsuit would not have been possible.
In New York, the statute of limitations for an alleged rape used to be five years. But in 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to extend the statute of limitations on second-degree rape to 20 years and 10 years for third-degree rape. Cuomo said in a statement at the time, “Five years is an insult to these survivors and today we’re providing them more time to come to terms with the trauma they experienced and to seek justice.”
It was not clear whether Cox intended to pursue a criminal case against Connolly now that the statute of limitations has been extended.
Cox said she changed her mind about moving to Los Angeles after the incident with Connolly. She said she had planned to work on his HBO show Entourage alongside Westcott.
She later moved back to her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and made a career change. According to the South Carolina Board of Social Work Examiners, Cox is a licensed social worker and is in “good standing” with the medical board. She obtained her current license in August 2018 and she will need to renew it in January 2021. Cox told the Daily Beast she works with children who have experienced trauma.